Native American TV Writers Lab Selects 2019 Participants

Congrats to the new Fellows – John Timothy, Shelley Dennis, William Paul Smith, Cara Jade Myers, Micah Ian War Dog Wright, Carolina Hoyos,  Robert Vestal!

by Bruce Haring

The LA Skins Fest, a Native American film festival, has selected the fellows for its Native American TV Writers Lab.

The TV scriptwriters workshop is held in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Company, HBO, and Kung Fu Monkey Productions. It is designed to prepare Native Americans for writing careers at major television networks. Fellows take part in a five-week curriculum curated by seasoned writing executives.

The lab was created to expand the amount of Native Americans working behind the camera, and as a way to increase fair and accurate portrayals of Native Americans on television. During the 2013-14 television season, Native Americans composed only 0.1% of writers staffed on TV shows, according to the 2015 Writers Guild of America-West TV Staffing Brief.

Between 2008 and 2014, the number of employed Native American television writers declined 60 percent, from 10 to just 4 writers. Native Americans were the most underrepresented in sector employment by a factor of 12 to 1.

The lab consist of daily workshops, seminars and one-on-one mentoring to help each writer develop and complete a pilot in five weeks and hone skills to prepare the writers to move into staff writing positions.

“We’re excited to bring together this remarkable group of Native American writers with distinctive voices and dynamic stories,” said LA Skins Fest executive director Ian Skorodin. “Once again we have a stellar group of Native writers who have shown considerable talent and even greater potential. We welcome them to the program to advance their expertise and professional skills with the aim of seeing them build careers as writers….”

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